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Symphonic Shakespeare

October 19, 2019 at 8:00 pm

The Akron Symphony Orchestra will explore music from the film adaptations of two of Shakespeare's greatest works - Hamlet and Henry V - along with a dramatic piece from acclaimed composer Ethel Smyth.

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Symphonic Shakespeare


October 19, 2019
8:00 pm
$4.00 – $60.00
Event Category:


E.J. Thomas Hall
198 Hill Street
Akron, OH 44325 United States
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The Akron Symphony Orchestra and Akron Symphony Chorus will explore the film scores of two of Shakespeare’s greatest works during Symphonic Shakespeare.

The evening will open with the overture from The Wreckers by acclaimed British composer Ethel Smyth, the most famous work from this prolific composer and activist for women’s rights in England. This will be the first performance of the season that is part of the Orchestra’s Stand Beside Her project highlighting the influential work of women composers/artists.

Shostakovich’s music for the 1964 film Hamlet is considered the composer’s best film score, as the integrity and sincerity of the music elevates it to the highest levels of art. Likewise, Walton’s score for Henry V is filled with fanfares and flourishes as the composer creates for the audience the imagery of Henry’s brilliant military leadership.

Joining the Orchestra for Hamlet and Henry V will be acclaimed Shakespearean actors Nick Steen and Donald Carrier, who will provide narration of key plot points.

Henry V will also include the Akron Symphony Chorus, making its season debut under new Chorus Director Chris Albanese.

A Preview from the Podium, featuring Music Director Christopher Wilkins discussing the evening’s program, will begin at 7 p.m.

Following the concert, join a select group of Orchestra musicians for TalkBack, a guided and wide-ranging conversation that will offer a look at the evening’s performance through the eyes of the musicians. TalkBack will take place in the lobby at E.J. Thomas Hall.

Christopher Wilkins, conductor
Nick Steen, narrator
Donald Carrier,
Akron Symphony Chorus
Chris Albanese,
Chorus Director

Smyth The Wreckers Overture
Shostakovich Hamlet Film Suite
Walton Henry V: A Shakespeare Scenario

This concert is part of our Stand Beside Her project, a yearlong effort to highlight the work of six women composers/artists in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. (Learn more.)

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Did You Know?

Along with his score to Kozintsev’s King Lear (1970), Shostakovich’s score to Kozintsev’s Hamlet (1963-64) is commonly said to be the best of his film scores. The intensity of mood, the concentration of its effect, and the originality of the themes elevate the score far beyond the music for the many propaganda films Shostakovich scored in the late 1930s and again in the late 1940s and early 1950s. But it is the overall integrity and sincerity of the music that elevate the Hamlet music to the highest levels of Shostakovich’s art. (Source: allmusic.com)

Ethel Smyth was a 20th-century British composer and a champion of women’s rights and female musicians. During her lifetime, she composed symphonies, choral works (musical pieces written for a choir), and operas including The Wreckers (1906), and is most well known for The March of Women, an anthem for the women’s suffrage movement. In 1922, she was named a Dame of the British Empire. (Source: Brooklyn Museum)

The story of Ethel Smyth’s struggle to get The Wreckers heard shows how hard it was for a British composer to achieve performances of grand opera. Covent Garden, the leading British opera venue, would only accept a new opera once it had achieved some degree of success abroad. Smyth’s situation was made more difficult by her position as a woman composing large-scale musical works at a time when women were assumed to be only capable of composing songs and small piano pieces. Smyth’s determination was rare in an age when women were expected to be demure and decorous rather than assertive and demanding. But it was these qualities, in both Smyth herself and her music, that ensured her work a hearing. (Source: americansymphony.org)

Composer William Walton created the soundtrack for three films starring Laurence Olivier: Henry V, Hamlet and Richard III. Walton also composed Crown Imperial for the 1937 coronation of England’s King George VI. (Source: The NPR Listener’s Encyclopedia of Classical Music)

Guest Artists

Nick Steen (Narrator)

Nick Steen is truly honored to be joining the Akron Symphony Orchestra for this wonderful night of Symphonic Shakespeare. Nick is a classically trained theater, film and voice actor based out of Texas. He holds a master’s degree from the American Conservatory Theater, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Evansville.

Previous roles in his career include; Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice, Mark Antony in Julius Caesar, Laertes in Hamlet, Theseus & Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, MacDuff in Macbeth, Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, Phillip Lombard in And Then There Were None, and Mr. Myers, Q.C. in Witness for the Prosecution.

Nick also hosts a web series about cars called Gearhead Garage that he, and his lovely wife, Nicki, created, and a How-To series with RumbleOn Motorcycles. Nick has endless gratitude for his family and for the love of his life, Nicki.

To learn more, visit www.NickSteen.com.

Donald Carrier (Narrator)

Donald Carrier has directed and performed across North America and internationally.

His regional credits include The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, King Lear and The Tempest (The Old Globe); Twelfth Night and Hamlet (Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival); A Christmas Carol (Great Lakes Theater); Shining City (Studio Theatre); Noises Off (Maltz Jupiter Theatre); The Duchess of Malfi and Richard III (Shakespeare Theatre); Gross Indecency (Huntington and Intiman Theatres); The School for Scandal (Chicago Shakespeare Theater) and Too True To Be Good (Shaw Festival).

Highlights of nine Stratford Festival seasons include As You Like It, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure and Twelfth Night.

Donald has appeared at Cleveland Play House in Shakespeare in Love: All the Way; Luna Gale; The Crucible; The Little Foxes; Yentl; In the Next Room, or the vibrator play; Ten Chimneys; Noises Off and Lincolnesque. He recently directed Othello at Texas Shakespeare Festival and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Beck Center.

Orchestra narrations include Romeo and Juliet and The Carnival of the Animals for The Cleveland Orchestra, He has also directed Discovering Romeo and Juliet and The Violins of Hope for TCO. Other directing credits include Becky Shaw at Dobama Theatre and Seminar and Really, Really at The Beck Center. 

His television and film credits include Guns, The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Passion of Ayn Rand and Dead by Monday.

Donald is the Interim Director of the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program and a 2016 Lunt/Fontanne Fellow.

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